Skip to main content

Into YA with Don Zolidis


I'm so excited to get to post this interview today. I absolutely love The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig. It's such an interesting, vibrant, emotional, honest, and fresh book. If you like nonlinear timelines or accidentally laughing out loud in public, you'll love this book. If you're not familiar with the book, I recommend reading my spoiler free review before coming back for the interview, and if you'd like to purchase the book, you can click my link here to buy it from Indiebound.

1. The book is set during the 1993-1994 school year. What made you decide to set it in the not so distant past instead of the present? Did that make it easier or more challenging to write? Do you think Amy and Craig’s story would be any different had it taken place in today’s world? 

The book is inspired by an autobiographical story of mine (although LOTS has been fictionalized) so I set it in the time period when the inspiration actually occurred. Since I was alive and a teenager in the time period, it didn't make it any more difficult than any other story. I think the main difference is the lack of cell phones. This is right before the internet came into everyone's life, and before anyone even had a cell phone. So there are times when Amy and Craig can't communicate with each other - on Craig's trip, he and Amy are out of communication for 4 or 5 days, something which would be hard to imagine in a couple in today's world. That creates opportunities for misunderstandings, or anxiety, or even not knowing what the other person is up to or what they're doing (which becomes important later in the story). 

2. The story is told not entirely in chronological order. I heard you mention at Teen Book Con that you wrote the book linearly and that it was always in this order. Why do you think that the story came to you in this way, and do you think that it presented any unique challenges when writing?

This is kind of a memory story, so I imagine that Craig is remembering his relationship with Amy. When we remember things, we don't remember them in chronological order either. If you think back about something, some kind of story, you don't start from the beginning and go to the end - certain moments jump out at you, out of order. So that was the concept. Since the story isn't chronological, it has to build emotionally instead of plotwise. The first breakup they have is one of the hardest, and it comes right in the center of the book - it also reveals something huge that the reader didn't know until that moment. 

3. It’s not a spoiler to say that Amy and Craig don’t have a happily ever after. I absolutely love this twist on contemporary YA because it’s far more realistic than the general happily ever after. Why did you choose to write it this way? Did you ever wonder if it would be a harder sell with it not being a classic love story?

I think the fact that it's not a HEA sets it apart a bit, and causes a big challenge. That's why there is a spoiler alert in the prologue that says that they won't get together in the end. I think this is a story about first love, and first loves so rarely work out, that it's definitely more realistic. I also think it's interesting to think that this book kind of starts where most romances end - the couple getting together. 

4. From reading the acknowledgements, it sounds like the book started as a play. How did you go from imagining it as a stage show to deciding to make it a novel? Since you write tons of plays, how does being a playwright impact being a novelist and vice versa?

Yes I wrote this as a play initially. It was a fairly short play, actually, only about 60 pages, so there was A LOT less to the story. It was a little snarkier, and less emotionally true, and the break-ups were played more for laughs than for pain. (They're still played for both.) But I remember watching a performance of the show and thinking that there was so much more to the story that I wanted to tell, and so much I couldn't get across in a play. I think being a playwright means that I tend to focus on dialogue rather than description (when you're writing a play you never have to worry what someone looks like, or what clothes they're wearing, or what they're doing with their hair!) so I think that was ultimately a benefit to the book, because it kept it moving forward very briskly. 

5. I adore this book, and I can’t wait for more books from you because your voice is spectacular. Do you have any upcoming projects you can talk about (or at least hint at?)

My next book, THE SPEECH TEAM MUST DIE, is slated for May 2020 from Disney-Hyperion. It's set in the modern day, and it's about a girl who joins the top-ranked speech and debate team in the country, in order to destroy it from the inside out. 


Books by this Author...
The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig: Review Here

Links of Interest:
Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb: Here
Heroine: Review Here
Beyond High School YA List: Here
Into YA with LD Crichton: Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Blog Tour Stop: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

  Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Like Home by Louisa Onomé, which came out this week. That means you don't even have to wait to pick up a copy of your very own. Thank you to Turn the Pages Tours and Penguin/Delacorte Press for arranging this. So let's get into what this latest YA is all about! Synopsis: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil. Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good. Only, Kate’s parents’ corne

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Four Years of Reading, Writing, and Me

Sooooo it's my blogiversary, and in true blogger form, I am writing this post the night before. I've been thinking about how to celebrate or what to say for a month, ever since Google sent me the email telling me that I once again have to pay to renew my domain name.  I've been a blogger for four years now. That feels surreal to say. I started this blog in 8th grade as a 13-year-old who had just picked up her first YA book ever (still thoroughly intimidated by that section of the library because I didn't feel teen enough. Now I'm grappling with suddenly not feeling adult  enough). I'm writing this close to turning 18, taking Zoom college courses from my bedroom. The me that started this blog would think you were lying if you told her about me today. And yes, the math between my grade levels is weird because I've blogged through a whirlwind 2 years of online high school that ran through weekends, summers, and holidays and a gap year working at my local bookst

Writing Morally Gray Characters: A Guest Post by Laurie Devore, Author of A Better Bad Idea

Laurie Devore is stopping by the blog today to talk about her new book from Imprint, A Better Bad Idea , which is out now! This mystery/thriller/romance fusion is Laurie's third book, and it's a new twist on her usual contemporary YA stories. For this guest post, Laurie talks about crafting morally gray characters that your readers will still feel attached to and cheer on. Here's her best writing tips:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what people will do when they’re pushed to their brink. While my new novel, A BETTER BAD IDEA, may seem like a departure in some ways from my previous novels, I actually think their DNA is quite similar. The stakes are higher, but as ever, this book is about girls making unimaginable choices because of their circumstances, whether self-inflicted or not.   I’m constantly thinking about what it means to write morally gray characters, and I think the main takeaway from me is that I’m just much more interested in what people do and w

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die At The End  by Adam Silvera (368 pages) Overview: Mateo and Rufus are both going to die at the end, but I'm guessing you got that from the title. The thing is, Mateo and Rufus don't know each other till the day they are going to die. After getting their calls from Death Cast, the new organization that lets everyone know that they are going to die with a call sometime after midnight. While trying to digest the news, they both turn their attention to the Last Friend app in search of finding another "decker" to spend their final day with. As the boys try to think of ways not to waste their final moments, they start to form a bond they never anticipated. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I have to applaud Silvera for keeping his (mostly) duel prospective narrative voices so separate. Mateo and Rufus not only have different traits but totally different dialects. Mateo is Puerto Rican, quiet, and totally paranoid with a hyperawareness about safe. Both careful an

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out  by Kate McGovern  Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing. On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4  Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried t

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon: Romance Review

  The Ex Talk  by Rachel Lynn Solomon Overview: Shay Goldstein was born to be on public radio. She used to pretend to host a radio show with her dad when she was a little kid, and she was crushed when he passed away. Now that she's getting ready for her first hosting gig, Shay feels like she's making him proud. Well... mostly proud. He always loved the truth that radio brought out and her new show is built on a little white lie- the idea that she used to date her co-host Dominic Yun. Though they bicker like exes, they never actually dated (though they might be currently?). As the popularity of the show takes off, all of Shay's dreams are coming true, and she might actually have found her dream guy too. And then everything falls apart. But it's a romance, so I think we all know how this ends. Overall: 5 Perfect for: enemies to lovers fans  Characters: 5 I love Shay and Dominic and their show producer, Ruthie. They're all just great. Shay is super relatable. She's